Children’s playground established in southern Turkiye to heal psychological scars left by quakes

A playground established by the army and police in a tent city in the southeast Adiyaman province is a significant step taken by the Turkish government to bring smiles to children and heal the psychological scars left by last week's devastating earthquakes.

Soldiers and police established the playground on the athletics track in the Sumerevler district in coordination with Türkiye’s Ministry of National Education.

Children who paint and play are also given psychosocial support by 25 volunteer teachers from Antalya and Batman provinces, said Serap Polat, a school counselor, who told Anadolu that they are mobilizing them because they have been traumatized by the massive earthquakes.

"We came here with the slogan 'If a child laughs, the world laughs'," she explained, adding, "We are a team established under the Ministry of National Education that is entirely based on psychological first aid."

When the children arrived, they were all nervous, Polat said.

Initially, about 20 children were present on the first day because they were affected by the trauma, but on the second day, a fire was lit in front of their tent and the children were waiting for them, she said, adding that the number of children now has reached almost 700.

"This number is increasing. We're making announcements to encourage families to bring their children. The law enforcement officers here are doing their best they can to ensure the safety of the children," she said.

She asserted that the children have become more relaxed and that they are trying to adapt the children to daily life as quickly as possible through psychological intervention.

“We are also trying to reach adults with traumatic experiences because there is great pain here. We’ve seen how well solidarity and unity progress in the face of adversity. It’s good that our ministry sent us here, and we’ve done a lot of work,” she added.

Adiyaman is one of the cities hardest hit by the strong earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye last week.

On Feb. 6, two massive earthquakes struck southern Türkiye.

The magnitude 7.6 and 7.7 tremors were centered in Kahramanmaras and hit nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

They also hit several countries and caused widespread destruction in northern Syria.

More than 31,974 people were killed in Türkiye, according to the latest official figures, while the death toll topped 3,600 in Syria.

Source: Anadolu Agency